To claw back into the game, then to have The Anointed Whiny One make the heartbreaker, could very well be more damaging to the psyche of the Grizzlies than the blowout loss of game one.
Just a quick look at two goods, two bads, and two uglies….
The good: Mike Conley heard the whole world whispering/talking/in some cases yelling about him, and headed straight for the hoop over and over, earning himself thirteen FT attempts and earning his way back into the good graces of Griz fans. From the worst game of his season to perhaps the best. He still got worked over on D a bit from time to time, especially when Bledsoe was in the game-that matchup is as bad as everyone says it is, because for all the quickness Conley possesses, Bledsoe’s cutting speed gets Conley, and the defenders behind him, in a lot of trouble. As the old saying goes, if you lose your man, look under the basket. That’s probably where he is. Overall, however, Conley was a massive positive for the team this game.
Also good-fourth quarter hustle. Again finding themselves down by double digits, this time the team rallied to tie the game. Arthur could probably already hear all of us screaming at him, and hustled well in the final frame, with Gasol and Conley doing what they do (each of them playing 44 minutes-”win or go home” style). The Grizzlies outscored the Clippers in the third and fourth quarters, but just couldn’t get over the hump.
Bad: Still couldn’t win the board battle. Prince and Allen did much better, but the Clippers still managed to top the Grizzlies on the glass. The athletic ability of the Clippers is likely the largest reason for this, as Turiaf and Hollins were both completely ineffective (Ryan Hollins scored himself 3 fouls in 3 minutes, further proving my assertion that he is terrible)-it also helps that Jordan and Griffin are well-versed in the backtap.
Bad: Randolph’s speed and overall involvement. Sure, he went 5-10 and grabbed 8 boards in “only” 31 minutes-but his rock-solid style in the post is not working to his advantage against the dervishes on the floor for the Clippers. He showed some flashes, taking Griffin to the hoop repeatedly, but his inability to defend without fouling made it tough for him to stay on the floor.
Ugly: Here we go again with the plus/minus silliness…but the entire starting five was plus, and the entire bench was minus. That is GLARING. Is it hustle, or is it talent? A bit of both, but sadly, it’s largely the latter. Ever since Conley came out of the locked PG room first and Lowry was sent away,the Grizzlies have searched for a backup PG. This year’s band-aid, Keyon Dooling, plays like he’s been there before (‘cuz he has), but is just too rusty and suffered a nasty tailbone bruise to boot.
Ugly: Chris Paul. No, he’s not really ugly I suppose. But he sure made this game ugly for the Grizzlies.
The hole has gotten deep for the Grizzlies. Will they be able to dig out? Stay tuned for the next episode of “Bad Matchup Derby”….